Friday, August 20, 2010

Tea Party Contract

This is not mine.  I did not create it.  I do not know who did.  But I like it.  It's been kicking around for awhile, but in case you have not seen it...


I, ________________________, do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following: 

I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights.

I will complain about the destruction of my 2nd Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights by legally but brazenly brandishing unconcealed firearms in public.
I will foreswear the time-honored principles of fairness, decency, and respect by screaming unintelligible platitudes regarding tyranny, Nazi-ism, and socialism at public town halls.

I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life. I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following: 

  • Social Security 
  • Medicare/Medicaid 
  • State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP) 
  • Police, fire, and emergency services 
  • US Postal Service 
  • Roads and highways 
  • Air travel (regulated by the socialist FAA) 
  • The US railway system 
  • Public subways and metro systems 
  • Public bus and light rail systems 
  • Rest areas on highways 
  • Sidewalks 
  • All government-funded local/state projects (e.g., see Iowa 2009 federal senate appropriations) 
  • Public water and sewer services (goodbye socialist toilet, shower, dishwasher, kitchen sink, outdoor hose!) 
  • Public and state universities and colleges 
  • Public primary and secondary schools 
  • Sesame Street 
  • Publicly funded anti-drug use education for children 
  • Public museums 
  • Libraries 
  • Public parks and beaches 
  • State and national parks 
  • Public zoos 
  • Unemployment insurance 
  • Municipal garbage and recycling services 
  • Treatment at any hospital or clinic that ever received funding from local, state or federal government (pretty much all of them) 
  • Medical services and medications that were created or derived from any government grant or research funding (again, pretty much all of them) 
  • Socialist byproducts of government investment such as duct tape and velcro (Nazi-NASA inventions) 
  • Use of the internet, email, and networked computers, as the DoD's ARPANET was the basis for subsequent computer networking 
  • Foodstuffs, meats, produce and crops that were grown with, fed with, raised with or that contain inputs from crops grown with government subsidies, or which were subsequently inspected by any branch of the government 
  • Clothing made from crops (e.g. cotton) that were grown with or that contain inputs from government subsidies 
If a veteran of the government-run socialist US military, I will forego my VA benefits and insist on paying for my own medical care.
I will not tour socialist government buildings like the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
I pledge to never take myself, my family, or my children on a tour of the following types of socialist locations, including but not limited to: 

  • Smithsonian Museums such as the Air and Space Museum or Museum of American History 
  • The socialist Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Monuments 
  • The government-operated Statue of Liberty 
  • The Grand Canyon 
  • The socialist World War II and Vietnam Veterans Memorials 
  • The government-run socialist-propaganda location known as Arlington National Cemetery 
  • All other public-funded socialist sites, whether it be in my state or in Washington, DC 
I will urge my member of Congress and Senators to forego their government salary and government-provided healthcare.
I will oppose and condemn the government-funded and therefore socialist military of the United States of America. 

I will boycott the products of socialist defense contractors such as GE, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Humana, FedEx, General Motors, Honeywell, and hundreds of others that are paid by our socialist government to produce goods for our socialist army. 

I will protest socialist security departments such as the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Justice and their socialist employees. 

Upon reaching eligible retirement age, I will tear up my socialist Social Security checks. 

Upon reaching age 65, I will forego Medicare and pay for my own private health insurance until I die. 


_____________ _________________________ 
Signed Printed Name/Town and State

Saturday, August 14, 2010

the antiheroes of voteblue flight 2010

VoteBlue Flight 2010 from Washington DC had arrived at its destination safely on Wednesday, having yet again successfully carried its passengers through a serious storm, this time the unexpected but dangerous Hurricane Stateaid.  As usual, of course, no one credited the captain and the crew, whose expertise had weathered the buffeting blowhard winds and nasty deceiving tricks of the storm; rather, this was one more success added to a seemingly endless pile of such successes that had been building for the eighteen months the crew had worked together, a pile that--no matter how mountainous--remained oddly invisible to the masses.
VoteBlue's captain remained imperturbable in the face of this idiosyncratic behavior.  He knew that, if the previous captain had had a tenth of the success in his eight years of piloting the craft as he'd already garnered in eighteen months, he'd have been hailed a hero, bigger than Sully (who after all had only managed not to crash one plane, whereas he--the captain--had managed not to crash not only his own plane but the entire interconnected network of aviation, despite the mess his predecessor had left it in).  Instead, though, everyone only looked at the flaws in his accomplishments.
    And there were flaws, to be sure.  To do what he had already done, he had to ease off on some of his key principles.  Some of the things that he had told the airline and its shareholders were most near and dear to him were things he had placed on hold; with others he had achieved success where no one ever had before but at the price of key aspects of his goals, as in when he made the first successful nonstop HealthCare flight, but only after having jettisoned the Public Option from the cargo hold over the Pacific Ocean.  Still, he felt, this was a thing he could recover later, now that he had achieved what some had believed to be impossible.  
    "Do something impossible every day"; that was his motto.  And the captain tried to accomplish it.  And if that meant a bit of compromise, or even a bit of delay, so be it.  And though it did bother him that people seemed oblivious to his great achievements, he still showed nothing but his trademark outward calm.
    It was the crew that cracked first.
First Officer Rahm, who frankly had never seemed all that stable to begin with and, some felt, should never have been promoted above beverage boy, began to show the fault lines early on.  But it wasn't until a full meltdown by the generally reliable Senior Flight Attendant Gibbs that the captain--and everyone else--began to understand that the crew had begun to lose it.
Maybe it was the fact that the flights were getting longer and harder.  The competition had upped the ante early in their run by introducing the Filly Booster Engine, a frightening and powerful new power source that allowed only a few of the competitor's airplanes to wipe out entire routes planned by VoteBlue.  Far too much time and energy had to be devoted to "breaking" the Filly Booster, an action that involved high levels of negotiation with officers on opposing crews, bargaining with them so they would not use their weapon.  Often it left the VoteBlue crew broken and exhausted, yet they battled on.  
They got through the HealthCare run.  They unloaded the outrageously expensive TARP routes that BushCo, their predecessor, had left them with when they had bought them out.  They managed to stop what might have become The Great Crash, though things were still far from normal.  Somehow they had even managed to do some good for other unrelated people, as if the old discredited Trickle Down theory actually worked, but not in economics--no--rather, in sheer good will.  And Detroit was coming back.  And, though it was indeed a slow process, lost rights were being restored.  And though the rest of the world saw this and credited the captain and the crew and felt good about VoteBlue and about America for the first time in the new century, the people here couldn't see it.
They saw only the dilapidated Gitmo Airport that was still open despite a promise to close it.  They saw the discrimination still unresolved against gays--left over, to be sure, from previous crews--and blamed the captain for not waving a magic wand and making it go away.  They saw the wealthiest stockholders continue to grow wealthier and the poorer ones still struggling to get by and wondered why the captain couldn't find a way to resolve that horrific discrepancy in his first eighteen months on the job.  They saw far too many of the company's employees deployed overseas in dangerous engagements begun by BushCo and wondered why the captain had not brought them home.  
Senior Flight Attendant Gibbs made a point each day to give passengers a recap of the great things the captain had done, but more and more all he heard were the complaints.  And finally, on Wednesday, he snapped.  He had been struck in the head once too often by stray insinuations that some traveler tossed around like so much loose luggage from an overhead bin.  Gibbs demanded an apology from the passenger, but the passenger refused and they began to argue.  Suddenly, the passenger told a stunned Gibbs to “f— off."
At this point, according to virtually all who were in attendance, Gibbs took the flight microphone and started talking to all of the passengers, beginning by directing that same insult directly at the passenger: "To the person who just told me to f--- off, F--- OFF!"  
Gibbs continued speaking on the PA system, saying that he could not understand why "all of you m--f--s on the professional left" couldn't understand that the captain had been doing his very best and couldn't see what he had already accomplished.  He opined that they "must all be on drugs or something."   The people on the right side of the plane, it was later reported, were very confused.  A couple of hippie types sitting on the left side applauded.
Saying "I've been in this business 28 years.  I've had it.  That's it," Gibbs then activated the plane’s inflatable emergency slide, grabbed two beers from the galley, slid down the chute, and disappeared into the terminal.
A spokesman for VoteBlue later indicated that Gibbs had never before had any instance of such behavior.  However, the spokesman said, "Perhaps it might be indicative of the pent-up frustration Mr. Gibbs might have felt knowing that, in a few short months, the captain could be taking orders from John Boehner and no one really seems to get it."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


This one is very personal.

I don't really know why I am writing it.

On the rec list of a blog I read regularly, a diary has been listed for the past day or so called "I was raped and it doesn't matter."  It is a political diary, and it deals with the politics behind rape.  In response to that diary, I considered titling this "I wasn't raped, but it does matter." But I am not really writing about the same subject, so this is not really a reply to that one and the title isn't quite right anyway.

I wasn't raped. What I did, I did of my own volition. But I did it because I felt trapped, felt that in my stupidity I had backed myself into a corner and lost control, had given control to a man I did not know who now had me in a vulnerable position. I was terrified and I made one stupid decision after another. And the result was...what happened.

It happened seven years ago. In Paris. I thought I was long over it. I mean it was so long ago and so stupid. And it was not rape. But with my 18-year-old daughter in Paris this week, these memories have come flooding back and I cringe involuntarily as flashes of his apartment, of his face, of my own absolutely foolish behavior slap at me and overwhelm me at odd moments.

First you must remember that I am a transsexual woman. In 2003, when this happened, I was only four years post-op, and frankly I was overwhelmingly naïve. I understood that a woman alone was easily victimized, yes: I felt that the first time I walked alone as a woman in downtown Chicago in the evening, across streets I had walked countless times in a former life, dressed as a man, with little or no thought to personal safety. That very first time as a woman, however, I became acutely aware of just how vulnerable I was, how suddenly I was viewed as potential prey by people who had not taken notice of me before. It was unnerving.

So I knew this. Still, the European trip was my vacation of a lifetime. It was a whirlwind journey through several countries, staying with old friends, culminating with three weeks in Scotland where I would be taking a class. Paris was my final stop before flying to Glasgow, and I only had a single day there; it was a transfer point and I was by myself that day.

I had had a wonderful time everywhere I'd been and had been welcomed as a woman by my old friends and their families. Still, of course, everyone along the way had known me before, had understood my past, and somehow that altered things a bit. I could not tell if they truly saw me as a woman or not. I had not yet developed that kind of self-confidence. Nor had I developed any kind of social understanding of male/female relationships, since I had not even dated as a man particularly and, as a woman, well, that was a new pond where wanted to wade but into which I had only made a few forays.

So I made it to Paris, City of Lovers, City of Lights, and I bought a guidebook and I took the metro to Notre Dame and then wandered back up the Champs-Elysees. I did not have all that much time, certainly not enough to see Paris really, but I figured I'd be back some day and wanted to get at least a kind of overview. It was not perfect, but whatever. Que sera sera and all that.

So I'm wandering up the grand boulevard, enjoying an absolutely perfect summer afternoon, trying to make sense of the map I was reading, when suddenly I hear myself addressed by a man nearby, who had been walking in the other direction. In French, he called out to me, asked if I needed help with the map. My French is not anywhere near perfect, but I definitely grasped his meaning. I smiled and tried to say I was OK, but he came over to me. He was flirting, calling me lovely, offering advice, telling me he'd be happy to walk awhile with me if I'd like. He was about my height, Arabic, nice looking, and gentle, and it was a bright sunny day, and I thought it might be nice to have company and besides, a chance to speak French to a real Frenchman? Hard to pass up considering how weak my own command of the language was. And besides, he kept saying how pretty I was, which was something I still had a hard time believing.

So we walked, and he made jokes, and he showed me things that were outside of the normal "touristy" parts of the city centre, and shortcuts to see places like L'Hotel Des Invalides and Le Tour D'Eiffel. It was interesting and fun, for the most part, but I kept thinking I should stop this, I should say thank you very much and goodbye, I should get out before I was in too deep. And I tried on several occasions, but each time I started he professed not to be able to understand me, and I thought it likely that he could not; my own French construction being so very poor.

So we came to the Eiffel Tower at dusk, and I loved the sight of it but I was starting to feel a bit leery.  We had been walking together several hours, and he had even kissed me on a couple of occasions.  He had made several highly suggestive comments that I had shrugged off, but I was unnerved and was beginning to feel ill at ease.  Yet it was his city, and I was not on solid ground on several levels: the language, at which I was at best a journeyman; the territory, at which I was unfamiliar; my gender, with which I was certainly not used to this type of interaction; my emotions, which kept liking the fact that he liked me even while I was frightened of what I was getting into.  And it grew darker.  And my hotel was out near the DeGaulle Airport.

I finally got him to take me to the Metro, but to my chagrin discovered that the whole system had closed for the night. I was stuck. It would reopen at 5 AM. I did not have enough money for taxi fare; I didn't know what to do. "Pas de problem," he said. "Venir chez moi." Come home with me. And I said no, no, I didn't think that would be a good idea. But it grew later and later and he said it would be just to sleep and I had to sleep somewhere and he'd get me to the Metro for the first train.

I told myself it was a horrible idea. I told myself I had no choice.

We walked along side streets that no tourist ever sees to a tiny apartment in some tiny section of town. And he pulled out a futon for me to sleep, and then I realized that this was also where he slept. Oh no, he assured me: he would sleep on the floor.

I tried to get to sleep. And I almost did. But an hour or so after he had turned out the lights he crawled into the bed, curling his arm around me. On such a tiny surface I could not successfully pretend to be sleeping. I tried to turn his advances away--I most definitely did not want them--but his hands were busy and he was hard and pressing against me. And I was completely terrified. He was strong. Not overly muscular, but strong. And he obviously felt we had "connected" or something, and I was not managing to communicate with him that I did not want this, even if I had not objected earlier in the night when he had taken the liberty of kissing me. But what worried me most was the thought of what might happen if he tried to force himself on me and it didn't work.

I could see what he was working with, and I sincerely worried it simply would not fit. I'm not built to stretch the way genetic girls are. And if he figured out I was TS somehow, how would he react? Would he hurt me? Would he kill me?

I panicked. I stopped him finally by doing the only thing I could think of that I pretty much could guarantee no man would ever turn down. And as I did it, desperately trying not to gag and praying that I could hold on long enough to satisfy him, I prayed it would be enough and he'd roll over and go back on the floor.

He didn't. But he did go to sleep, which proved to be enough. In the morning, he walked me to the train and put me on it. In truth, I do not believe that he had any clue that, in my memory, he lives as a monster. His version of the evening might be that there was this American girl he picked up, showed a bit of the town to, brought home when she missed her train, and got some from. But there in my mind he lingers: soft laughter, flirtatious smile, complimenting me at a point in my life when I happened to be most vulnerable to compliments, preying on the lone American redhead with the unfolded map who only had wanted to take in as much of Paris as her single day could offer.

As it turned out, I took in far too much.

city of shattered lights

from notre dame up to champs elysees
i saw the paris all were meant to see
awestruck i walked the glorious golden way
with multitudes who wandered there with me

the tower lit with firework sparkling lights
exploded summer song into the air
and brilliantly shone out into the night
to call the souls of all who gathered there

to lift into the evening and to fly
to drift into the softly flowing breeze
and join the spirit of the city’s sky
in swirling soaring flight above the trees

and my soul, too, as if within a dream,
became ungrounded by that siren’s call
and later in the streets beyond the gleam
i wondered if it still was there at all

for in the smallest hours of the dark
too earthbound then to stay above my tears
far from the tower, nowhere near the park,
another paris, haunted by its fears

of never being part of all that breathes
the life into the place beside the seine,
pulls silence as a blanket round its eaves
not knowing when its sun will shine again

in some small dismal room in some small street
that second paris stabbed me in the heart
by morning’s light it managed to defeat
the concorde i’d imagined at the start

when dreary sunlight once more filtered down
and morning sounded its discordant song
my broken weary soul slipped from the town
i’d dreamed of being part of for so long

how fitting that i got no final taste
of daylight dappled on that golden mile
the second paris laid that dream to waste
its golden lights replaced by shadowed guile

perhaps someday i might at last forget
perhaps someday i might at last return
for now, the darkness isn’t over yet:
we only keep the memories that we earn


In the comments I received after posting this on the aforementioned blog, 100% of respondents said that, yes, I had indeed been raped.

Among the comments:
He might be surprised you remember him as a monster, or he might not -- he would have known when the Metro stopped running and how expensive cab fare would be -- sounds like he may have done this before . . . 
so sorry you had this experience, but please do not blame yourself for being vulnerable 
there are men like that out there 

What you did was a survival mechanism in the midst of a rape.  You were most definitely vulnerable, not just to your own emotions but my guess is that he would not have responded well to learning you were TS and you could have been in more danger.  Thank you for sharing this story - it's chilling to think just how many small decisions can lead to something so frightening.  We've all done it - there but for the grace of God...

Regardless of how or why you got into the situation, you did what you had to do to keep yourself relatively safe.  I was raped when I was 15, and for too many years I second-guessed myself, believing I could have fought harder. But the truth is I didn't want to die, so at some point I did what I had to do to survive. Just like what you did.  
and also

After all, women are told from birth that rape prevention falls on our shoulders. Somehow, the message never gets ingrained in the same way in men to not rape, to leave us alone, to stop touching, to stop pushing our boundaries to see how far they can go, to just stop.
You were raped, sunspark. Coercion is a form of rape. You were alone in a strange city, with no transportation, with a language barrier, in a new body with a very real and valid fear of worse things happening to you if you did not "perform." That's coercion, and it's rape.
And you are not to blame for it.
I've been telling myself for years that I brought this on myself, that yes, he was a monster, but I was stupid and naïve.  I should have known better, should have done anything other than what I did.  I still think that.  It's an easy and obvious thing to think.  But there is no denying that he was a kind of monster, and maybe that ought to have more weight in assessing blame for the incident.  I don't know how to let myself off the hook.  But I know I do need to try.


it's your hair that i notice first
streaked with morning
it frames your face
you lying there eyes closed
soft breath not quite there
i follow its path as it bends the sheet
and i can touch you there
touch what i feel is you
in the spark of daylight
you'll rise
pull on the wrinkled shirt from last night
say something you think is beautiful
drink some coffee
from behind my paper
and drive away,
leaving a kiss on my lips
and a hole in my heart
where a fire ought to be

Favorite Films

  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Amelie
  • The Princess Bride
  • Casablanca
  • Annie Hall
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • All That Jazz
  • Citizen Kane
  • Love Actually
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Big Fish
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Almost Famous
  • Bull Durham
  • Notting Hill
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • Magnolia

All-Time Favorite TV Shows

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Gilmore Girls
  • M*A*S*H
  • The West Wing
  • The X-Files
  • The Daily Show
  • Ally McBeal
  • Picket Fences
  • All In The Family
  • Seinfeld
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Star Trek
  • Firefly
  • Wonderfalls
  • Northern Exposure
  • Get Smart
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • Monk
  • Felicity
  • St. Elsewhere

Current TV Shows I Enjoy (in no particular order)

  • Perception
  • Major Crimes
  • American Horror Story
  • Louie
  • Suits
  • The Newsroom
  • Falling Skies
  • Franklin and Bash
  • Veep
  • Scandal
  • Fairly Legal
  • Girls
  • Don't Trust the B---
  • Justified
  • Portlandia
  • Psych
  • The Middle
  • Person of Interest
  • Happy Endings
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Nikita
  • Raising Hope
  • Castle
  • Drop Dead Diva
  • Covert Affairs
  • Elementary
  • Rizzoli and Isles
  • Revolution
  • The Last Resort
  • Alphas
  • SNL
  • Revenge
  • Community
  • Suburgatory
  • New Girl
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Grimm
  • Nashville
  • Downton Abbey
  • Smash
  • Homeland
  • Fringe
  • Glee
  • Haven
  • Community
  • Warehouse 13
  • Modern Family
  • Vampire Diaries
  • The Daily Show
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • The Colbert Report
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Leverage
  • Rachel Maddow Show

xkcd - A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and